The Eagles returned for practice on Wednesday, and head coach Doug Pederson spoke to the media about the lack of moves ahead of the trade deadline and the run game with Jordan Howard and Miles Sanders. He also mentioned DeSean Jackson getting back out on the practice field a little bit, and seeing where he’s at physically.
Pederson mentioned that the bye week following this Sunday’s game is huge for some of the injured guys, to really get some time to rest and rehab before the second half of the season.
Here’s what the head coach had to say:
On the trade deadline and roster
Pederson said he didn’t know why newly acquired Genard Avery wasn’t used by the Browns much this season, but was excited about the young player’s potential. That was the only move the team made heading into the trade deadline on Tuesday, but Pederson said he’s happy with the roster.
“You look around the league and there wasn’t a whole lot going on and I think teams are comfortable and very confident with the guys they have, just like us. We are excited. The number one thing is we are getting guys back. We’re getting guys healthy here quickly and it goes into a lot of the decisions. But we take a look.”
The head coach wouldn’t say whether this team has championship potential, but only because they don’t look that far into the future. He emphasized (what he often does throughout the season) that they approach each game like one-game season, and take things as they come.
He was also asked about whether the situation last week with former players talking about the team influenced their decision not to bring in anyone else ahead of the deadline.
“I think the biggest thing was the fact that the team was able to eliminate those distractions and squash them pretty quick.
Whether it be rumors or talk or whatever it was, they were able to really put it behind them. That just goes to show the character of the team, the culture of the team, how strong it is, and really just worry about football. Let’s focus on football. Keep the main thing the main thing. So now when you’re looking at the free agency and the trade deadline and all that kind of stuff, when you start talking about bringing guys into your building, our culture can surround those guys, and our culture can help sort of shape those guys because of what we’ve been through as a team, so we’re very -- and we’ve done that. We’ve proven that here in the last couple years with the guys we brought into our building. So I’m excited this week, another great opportunity for our team.”
On the run game
Pederson was asked about the Jordan Howard trade early in the offseason and whether he surprised by the terms to get the running back. He didn’t want to speculate on why Chicago traded him for a low draft pick — although did quickly mention that Howard might not have fit into what Matt Nagy was doing —, but emphasized the Eagles studied his tape and was excited to get him.
The head coach also talked about how Howard was establishing himself as a leader early in the offseason.
“I just think he was committed to being here this spring, this summer. Kind of took command of the -- because we didn’t have [Darren] Sproles at the time and just kind of took charge of that room. It was a young room and he was kind of the veteran guy at the time. And then just how he worked. How he came in here and got in the weight room, picked up our offense. We asked him even to, from a conditioning standpoint, to do some things there and to help himself and he did that and it was important to him.”
It seems like every week Pederson is asked if they were expecting Howard to be such a well-rounded player — as a pass catcher, lead blocker, etc... — and the head coach typically notes that they studied his tape and knew he was talented at a lot of different things.
“This guy, he’s just a humble guy, he’s a hungry guy. He wants to perform, he wants to help us win and he really fit well into that running back room.”
Pederson went on to say that he likes having two types of running backs — like they Eagles had with Jay Ajayi and LeGarrette Blount — in Howard and rookie Miles Sanders. He explained that you can use both a downhill, powerful guy and the shifty, speedy guy in game planning. They may never know how the run game is going to play out, so they are able to have different runs and schemes for each guy.
The head coach had a lot of positive things to say about Sanders and his development so far this season. Pederson says that he’s been most impressed with how Sanders takes corrections from Duce Staley and from the tape and apply it to practice and in games.
“You saw it Sunday. It really is beginning to manifest in the game where he’s seeing that hole a little bit sooner, making that cut and getting positive yards.”
Pederson was asked about the team running the ball more even though they haven’t had many leads, and the head coach said that they just try to win games and sometimes that involves more of a ground game — like against the Bills with it being so windy.
On the Andy Reid coaching tree
“The off-season is big to pick each other’s brain just a little bit to see kind of -- not so much from X’s and O’s but just from a culture standpoint, what worked with your team that maybe I can interject with my team here or something like that. Maybe how the structure of your staff is going, different assignments, jobs, things of that nature. From that standpoint, it’s good to just kind of have those relationships and guys that you know, you’ve spent time with, you understand them, they understand me. It’s really beneficial. And then just the networking, just to stay connected and just to see how they are doing.”